Working with Ansible Variables

Ansible variables play a crucial role in customizing and configuring your automation tasks. They allow you to define dynamic values that can be used across playbooks, roles, and tasks. In this tutorial, we will explore how to work with variables in Ansible.

Introduction to Working with Ansible Variables

Variables in Ansible provide flexibility and customization to your automation code. They allow you to store and reference values that can change based on different conditions or requirements. Ansible supports various types of variables, including global variables, inventory variables, and role-specific variables.

Let's take a look at a couple of examples:

Example 1: Defining a variable

To define a variable in Ansible, you can use the following syntax:

{{ variable_name }}

For example, you can define a variable named "server_name" with a value of "webserver" as follows:

server_name: webserver

Example 2: Referencing a variable

Once a variable is defined, you can reference it in your playbooks, roles, or tasks using the same syntax:

name: "{{ server_name }}"

In this example, the value of the "server_name" variable will be used as the value for the task's "name" attribute.

Working with Ansible Variables

Here are the steps to work with variables in Ansible:

1. Variable Definition

Define variables using the YAML syntax. Variables can be defined in playbooks, inventory files, or separate variable files. You can also use built-in Ansible variables or environment variables.

2. Variable Scope

Understand variable scope to ensure that variables are accessible where they are needed. Ansible variables have different levels of scope, including global, play, host, and task scope.

3. Variable Precedence

Be aware of variable precedence to ensure that the correct values are used. Variables defined at higher precedence levels, such as in playbooks or inventory files, override variables defined at lower levels.

4. Variable Substitution

Substitute variables in your playbooks, roles, or tasks using the double curly brace syntax. Ensure that variables are properly quoted when used within strings.

5. Variable Filters

Use Ansible filters to modify or manipulate variable values. Filters allow you to perform operations such as string manipulation, filtering lists, or formatting dates and numbers.

Common Mistakes with Working with Ansible Variables

  • Not properly defining variables, resulting in undefined values or errors during playbook execution.
  • Forgetting to quote variables within strings, causing unexpected behavior or syntax errors.
  • Overlooking variable scope, leading to inaccessible variables or conflicts with similarly named variables.
  • Not understanding variable precedence, resulting in unexpected values being used.
  • Not utilizing Ansible filters to transform or format variable values when needed.

FAQs about Working with Ansible Variables

  1. Q: Can I change the value of a variable during playbook execution?

    A: By default, Ansible variables are not meant to be changed during playbook execution. However, you can use dynamic inventory scripts, prompts, or other techniques to obtain variable values at runtime.

  2. Q: Can I override variables defined in inventory or playbooks?

    A: Yes, you can override variables by defining them at different levels, such as in inventory files, playbooks, or command-line arguments. The most specific definition takes precedence.

  3. Q: How can I access environment variables in Ansible?

    A: You can access environment variables in Ansible using the {{ ansible_env.VARIABLE_NAME }} syntax. Replace VARIABLE_NAME with the name of the environment variable.


Working with variables in Ansible allows you to customize and configure your automation tasks. By following the steps outlined in this tutorial, you can define, reference, and manage variables effectively. Understanding variable scope, precedence, and utilizing filters enables you to create dynamic and flexible automation code in Ansible.